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Charter school oversight board to discuss virtual charter schools, new applications next week

The NC Charter School Advisory Board will meet next week, November 15-16, to begin its review of new applications made by those hoping to open a charter school in 2018.

The CSAB also has a number of other key agenda items on tap for next week. They include the following:

An update on the virtual charter school pilot program.

CSAB members will discuss a draft report to the General Assembly on the new virtual charter school pilot program. You can see the draft report here, which includes the final withdrawal rates for the program’s first year.


Take note of those high withdrawal rates for Pearson-backed NC Connections Academy and K12, Inc.-backed NC Virtual Academy, then consider this: when it became clear early on in its first year that that the pilot program was in trouble because the two virtual charter schools were bumping up against the statutory maximum for student withdrawals, the General Assembly relaxed the law, tinkering with language that defines who is a dropout.

Lawmakers settled on allowing some dropouts not to be counted in final withdrawal figures (seen above as “finite enrollees,” or those who only intended to enroll for a limited period of time). It’s up to the virtual charter schools to determine who those students are, by the way.

Interestingly, once ‘finite enrollees’ are taken out of the equation, NC Virtual Academy’s dropout rate stands at 25 percent even, the statutory maximum. Connections Academy, however, is still exceeding the statutory maximum at 31 percent.

Lawmakers also tried to bump the withdrawal rate maximum from 25 percent up to 35 percent, but that provision was ultimately taken off the table during the negotiation process.

Settling on how they’ll influence the State Board of Ed.

At last month’s meeting, CSAB members talked about new ways to push their recommended charter school applications to the State Board, where they hoped they’d get a rubber stamp approval for the apps to which they gave the go ahead.

If you’ll recall, this past summer the rubber stamp was not readily available for all charter applications, in particular for those that barely eked past the CSAB with split votes. Those denials infuriated CSAB members and they’re now looking for ways to not see a repeat of last summer. One new approach they are considering is to push applications with a critical mass of yes votes straight to the SBE’s consent agenda and bypassing opportunity for discussion.

A final discussion on the matter will take place next week.

Other agenda items include a discussion of charter schools up for renewal that are experiencing difficulties as well as updates from this month’s meeting of the State Board of Education.

Click here: Day 1 agenda
Click here: Day 2 agenda

Lindsay Wagner

Lindsay Wagner is a contract reporter for EducationNC focused on child nutrition.